Blackhat: Free, Open Internet Dying

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 @ 07:08 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
A free and open Internet is where dreams and innovation can start, but the problem is the potential benefits could end up stifled through regulations and forms of censorship.

“That dream is dying,” said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society during her keynote address at the Blackhat USA 2015 conference in Las Vegas Wednesday. “For better or for worse, we are putting other things above freedom and openness. We are settling for an Internet less open and more centralized.”

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While that may sound overly pessimistic, Granick doesn’t believe it has to be that way.

“Twenty years from now you won’t have any indication of why things are happening. Things will happen and no one will really know why,” she said.

There does seem to be a line to draw where people want security, but they should also be able to decide for themselves.

“People want and need a certain level of safety online,” Granick said. “We are creating choke points where regulations come in. Powerful groups will get to decide who gets security and who doesn’t. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

That led her to ask who was ultimately responsible for security, government or private sector?

The problem, she said, is there are too many entities or countries coming in and starting to regulate and censor what can end up said on the Internet.

“The idea of a global network was to have anyone share information to anyone anytime and anywhere. Internet has the promise of being much more than business as usual.”

The government wants to run the Internet much like television, she said.

The dream of Internet Freedom:
• We overcome age, race, class and gender.
• Communicate with anyone, anywhere
• Free access to information
• Hands on imperative
• Computers will liberate

In the next 20 years, if we keep going this way we can see things will happen and you will not know why, the Internet will end up run like television and there will be security haves or have nots, she said. Or, if we understand the changing realities of what the Internet can bring, we can:
• Think globally
• End to end encryption
• Give power back to the people
• Hands off private technology development
• Start being afraid of the right things. “Cows kill more people than sharks do.”
• Modify laws
• Start creating the technology for the next cycle of the revolution

Jeff Moss, the founder of Blackhat, who introduced the morning keynote session, previewed Granick’s talk by saying the direction of security is like a pendulum is swinging quickly. The changes occurring really come from starting at zero and evolving over time. The interesting thing is, more changes are on the horizon.

“Back in the day pirating software was not illegal,” Moss said. “Now they are talking minimum sentencing. You can see the same theme following regarding other topics like legislation where there was once very little to today where there is a lot of legislation.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) we are in the middle of that. You may not think you are in the battle, but you will be in the middle of this for the next 5 to 10 years.

“Cyber insurance is coming on the scene. That will suck up a good part of the budget. There will be more involvement of the legal systems. Get familiar with tools you can use. Software liability is going to be a huge issue,” Moss said.

He went on to add, software today is not facing liability issues. But companies that use software face liability, so how long will it be before software providers end up held liable for flaws in their products.

“Boeing, Airbus and Tesla are moving data centers and they have liability,” he said. “Microsoft and Oracle will (eventually) need liability.”